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New Source Review Permits – Don’t Be Fooled by the ‘New’

Fresno, California – You may never have heard of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Source Review (NSR) permit program. The program was created by Congress in 1977 as amendments to the Clean Air Act. The ‘new’ in NSR doesn’t necessarily mean new construction from the ground up. Any existing facilities that plan a major or minor modification to a facility or new construction with the potential to emit (PTE) pollutants above the allowable thresholds will need to go through the NSR.

The Clean Air Act’s New Source Review program is more accurately defined as any source of emissions that could come under regulatory guidelines. So don’t be fooled into thinking your project is off the hook because it’s not ‘new’ construction. In the NSR program, sources that have a PTE could be ‘major,’ ‘minor,’ or ‘tribal minor’ NSRs on what the EPA calls, “Indian Country” lands. The definition of these sources is determined by either the Air Quality Control Board in the region or for federal lands, the EPA. The guidelines from the EPA are that any source of emissions that have a potential to emit (PTE), without mitigation, that is above specific thresholds of pollutants during the life of the source, will require a review and an NSR permit.

At Soar Environmental, we work hard to keep our partner’s projects off the ground. Having the EPA review and an NSR permit ahead of construction that includes any new sources of emissions will expedite matters greatly.

Imagine this scenario, you work hard to get the construction or new installation schedule in place. Perhaps your project is years in the making. You’ve gone through all the environmental studies, and finally, you have the 1000 page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in hand. Your new construction or modification of PTE sources includes moving dirt with heavy equipment, the use of diesel generators, and boilers over the long haul, etc. Then upon further review, you find out that the EIS provided technical studies with new PTE sources above the emitting thresholds, even with mitigation measures in place that require the NSR permit. And you go, “What!?” Ouch! Delays…it happens.